Ethan Martin: More Than a Bullpen Arm?
Back in February, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro made it clear that he wants to see a healthy Ethan Martin pitch this spring and build up his arm strength.
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Martin was acquired in a 2012 trade deadline deal that sent outfielder Shane Victorino to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He started strong, going 5-0 at AA Reading over 7 late season starts with a 3.18 ERA. He allowed just 29 hits in 39.2 innings, with a 35-18 K/BB ratio.
In 2013, Martin went 11-5 at AAA-Lehigh Valley, allowing just 94 hits in 115.2 innings pitched. This steady minor league progression led to Martin’s first call-up to MLB in August of 2013, and he was inserted immediately into the Phillies rotation.
He remained in the big leagues for 7 mostly ineffective starts, going 2-4 with a 6.90 ERA, allowing 33 hits in 30 innings. He did strike out 34 hitters, but was relegated to the bullpen for September, except for one final 3-inning spot start on September 28th.
“I think he needs to work on all his stuff and the command of all his pitches” ~ Amaro
His 2014 season began on the DL with a shoulder strain, and ended with lower back issues on two separate occasions during Winter ball in Venezuela. When he did pitch, it was out of the bullpen. Martin appeared in 32 minor league games, all out of the bullpen, with a 45-21 K/BB over 47.2 innings in which he allowed 46 hits. He got into just two early June games for the Phillies in the majors.
Now that Martin is well rested and healthy, will his role continue in the bullpen or will the lack of depth in the rotation lead to a chance to return as a starter?
As reported by Jake Kaplan, Amaro would like to see Martin get some starts, but isn’t ruling out a return to the bullpen, stating; “I think he needs to work on all his stuff and the command of all his pitches, and I think this is the best way to do it and get his arm strength going.”
Martin saw his first Grapefruit League action earlier this week against the New York Yankees. In 2 innings of relief, he was credited with a Hold. For what was his first outing since being shut down with lower back pain in late November, Ethan finished the game pretty favorably. Overall he threw 23 pitches, 14 of which were strikes.
Martin did see some trouble in the 6th inning, walking Alex Rodriguez to load the bases. He then gave up his only earned run on a sacrifice fly by Gary Sanchez before getting 1st baseman Francisco Arcia to roll into an inning ending double play.
All in all it was a solid first outing for Ethan Martin to start the spring off. There is still plenty of time for Sandberg to work him in for start or two, possibly in split-squad games at a couple of points. The most important thing to focus on at the moment should be Martin’s health, and then a gradual buildup of innings as spring progresses.